Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Plastering Commences

Happy to inform that the internal defects identified in the pre-plaster report were all either rectified as directed or certified as being acceptable in the present as-built state. We met our SS on-site on Tuesday and he pointed out each rectification work. The insulation issue had not been rectified and to his credit, he had this work completed by the end of the day.

We still need the external defects, namely slab, slab set down and hebel, rectified, however, as these can be completed independently of any internal fixing works, we allowed CG to start with the plastering.

What a surprise to visit the site the next day (Wednesday) and see all the plaster sheeting (ground and first floor) hung and in place. It really is starting to feel like a home. The bulkheads provide features and look fantastic. You can see how much light reaches each room and with the insulation and plaster up, it sound very quiet within the walls of the house now.

A recommendation. CG pack insulation into all external wall frames, however, not in any internal wall frames. Our study will double as a guest bedroom, and since it shares a wall with a rumpus room (TV, music, noise, etc), we decided to pack acoustic wall insulation into this wall. This was cheap and easy. Wear gloves, but certainly, you can just rip these bats to correct size with your hands.

We'll be interested to see how long this initial plaster phase takes (especially since we opted for cornices, not square set, because we were expressly told this choice would make this stage much quicker). We've been told 7 - 10 days. Then the kitchen cabinets are installed along with the stairs.

We've attached some photos of the house now. It's looking good.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Pre-Plaster Inspection Report

Received the actual report on Friday. The report identified 13 building defects in total.

Item 1 was all about the slab rectification. This was flagged in the frame report and it's disappointing to be shown the extent to which this was not done and done incorrectly. The relevant building surveyor supposedly supervised and signed off on these works; we've requested copies of the supervision/inspection certificates.

Items 2 - 8 are all framing and/or design issues. According to our SS, all very minor rectifications that will be completed by a carpenter tomorrow, and before the plastering starts on Wednesday.

Item 9 is one part of the hebel issue.

Item 10 and 11 relate to the insulation; specifically insulation that is missing in certain places and which will need to be installed prior to plastering.

Item 12 and 13 relate to the sarking (the roof lining below the colourbond) (discussed in previous posts); specifically areas of the sarking that have been cut, torn or dislodged and which will need to be rectified per the relevant Aust Standard.

At this stage, we will have a meeting with our SS on-site on Tuesday, so he can point out and explain each rectification work. We need to be sure that all internal defects identified in the pre-plaster report have been rectified before the plastering commences. Obviously, the external defects (eg slab and hebel issues) can be rectified during internal fixing stage.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Private Pre-Plaster Inspection - Helpful insights

Our pre-plaster inspection was conducted today and it was comforting to hear that the build is looking quite good. Most of the items listed in the frame stage inspection report and defects list had been attended to. The exceptions were:

1. Concrete floor slab rectification: incomplete in some parts and unsatisfactory in other parts. Disappointing to have pointed out areas of the slab where the steel reinforcement is still exposed; areas where the slab is still ‘honeycombed’; and lengths along the slab where the soil has not been sufficiently cleared away to properly inspect the integrity of the slab. Further rectification works will be required.

 2. Engineering design issues: New Home Inspections rightly noted all design issues that varied from the engineering report. We had previously gone through this report with our SS. A few items noted have not been rectified as required based on the engineering report. Our SS gave us the reason for this, suggesting that many engineering reports are generic and over engineered, and that some items on the report were simply not necessary (eg using 2 TSX studs instead of the 3 recommended in the engineering report). Our SS went on to explain that the engineer confirmed in writing that the work completed was sufficient despite said work being different from that described in his original engineering report. We have been advised to obtain these written confirmations and will seek to obtain these from CG.

The other major area of concern is a hebel issue, similar to that experienced by other CG clients (js19 has made comments about this previously). In short, our understanding is this. Unlike bricks, hebel (aerated concrete) is porous. Therefore it is not advisable to but concrete or paving up against the hebel cladding. This would create a direct interaction between the two materials which would allow water to reach the hebel cladding. The alternative is to finish the concreting/paving beneath the hebel. Problem here is that this will then expose the bottom finish of the hebel panels and render and in many places, the damp proof course. This is very unsightly and really not satisfactory either. 

We had a good chat with our building inspector who suggested preferred methods to rectify this issue. These will be detailed in his report and we are hopeful CG will implement these suggestions immediately, especially since all their houses are built using hebel. Once again, our building inspector was really informative, knowledgable and clearly an advocate. We appreciated the time he spent on-site with us today describing his findings and explaining how best to address issues. 

We will let you know about the other items in the pre-plaster report once it is complete.

A quick side note. While on site today we also noticed that the insulation had been installed throughout the house; throughout the roof and also in all external walls. There were at least two places that were missed – above the master bedroom and along the entry passage near the laundry/study wall. These places, you could clearly see into the roof cavity above. They should be plugged up with insulation too, and we believe this will be an item in the pre-plaster report anyway.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Our House - Now at Lock-Up Stage

A milestone. Our Hyatt 38 house is now technically at lock-up stage. 2 weeks behind the initial plan outlined at build commencement, so not bad really. Progress has been steady.
These photos show what our house looks like and you can now see that the lower roof trusses and the ground floor roof are all in place. We still need some gutters, flashing and bits and pieces; we still need some hebel cladding in certain places and there are a few touch ups required, but overall, you get a feel for this house and all of its space.

During the week, further works were also completed inside the house. We note that much of the electrical and data cabling has also been done, the ducted heating and evaporative cooling has also been installed (you can see the tip of the evap. cooler unit in this photo), most of the plumbing has been installed and the carpenter has been back to frame up features such as bulk heads, wardrobes and door frames.

At the same time, we note that some of the items we discussed with our site supervisor during our last meeting have been attended to which is great. We have another meeting with SS on Friday to discuss.
This meeting will also serve to discuss the next stage(s) in the build. We've been told to book our pre-plaster inspection for next week, so New Home inspections will again attend to conduct a private inspection (this will be on Wednesday next week). Not sure what's happening between now and then - we assume this time will be used by CG to dot their i's and cross their t's before the pre-plaster inspection. Hopefully, any faults or issues that they are presently aware of or that can be identified will be rectified this time before our paid private inspection is conducted on Wednesday 21 November.

These are some photos showing the lower roof trusses and how they interact with the frame and the house. These are quite large spans across our dining and living room space. There's not a great deal of space in the roof cavity we've noticed. Same is very true for the first floor roof space too.

This photo shows the heating and cooling ducts. They are very fat and thick and they take up an extraordinary amount of space in the roof cavity. We wonder how the roof/ceiling insulation will actually be installed. We wonder how they will get the insulation in and under these large, fat, black pipes (ducts).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

On-Site Meeting with our SS

We spent a decent amount of time together last Friday, namely to go over the Schedule of Building Defects and to discuss some concerns we had with the construction to date.

Here's the outcome of the meeting:
1. concrete floor slab has been rectified and has been signed off by the engineer and relevant building surveyor.
2. corner of floor slab on right side of garage door opening has been rectified.
3. most of the engineering design issues that had been missed, have now been completed. Our SS was great in going through each issue listed and showing us how it had been rectified. There were a few Ankascrews (essentially, large screws that hold the DS and DSX studs (these are a special type of timber, usually found beneath lintels or at doors/windows) (they are marked on the engineering plan) [the engineers for our home are Buratt Consulting Engineers]) still missing, some Multigrip anchors (look like metal plates that help to secure the joining of timbers) still missing, hoop iron strapping still missing - and our SS confirms these will all be attended to.
4. the big concern in this section of the report was that the large steel beam that spans the entire width of our living room space and also supports the first floor is only screwed down to the lower wall top plates. This was flagged in the schedule (of defects), however, our SS confirms that the engineer is satisfied this is not a problem and has confirmed this in writing (by email).
5. untreated radiata pine framing nailed straight to the slab (ie direct ground contact) at the front of the garage. Again flagged in the schedule, but in the end, not replaced, our SS instead opting to place treated pine battens adjacent the existing timber uprights. We have been assured this is sufficient to prevent timber rot and the framing members failing prematurely.
6. the chipboard sheet flooring to first floor had not been fixed into the joists sufficiently. Our SS has confirmed the floor will actually be screwed down as part of the standard CG process.

We also asked our SS about the issues raised in the last post. He confirms the steel posts in the garage were measured short and therefore a small section was required to be welded to it to ensure the correct height. He assures us this is common place and that this in no way affects the integrity or strength of support and foundation in this area of the house.

The other areas we flagged ourselves with respect to the timber framing, such as the roof spanning beam that is seemingly only supported by 3 nails, and some entire timber frames (that will form walls in our house, namely rear garage/laundry and leisure) will also be rectified, with additional bracing and strengthening to be used.

We also noted that the silt pits that CG have installed around the house (4 in total) appear to be set very low. These pits need to be exposed and can not sit below the surface. We have requested that they are extended upwards.

All in all, a really solid meeting. We've lost a week or two along the way, but as long as mistakes are minimised and, if they do occur, are resolved and rectified to comply with the Australian Standards, we're happy. Certainly CG continue to be good builders to be working with.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Minor Delays ..... No Need for Concern

No updates through the week, cause not a great deal of action on-site. Our site supervisor has explained events and it's no big deal. So as at yesterday, here's where our build is at. The first floor exterior is now complete. The hebel has been rendered (colour is Dulux Pipe Clay), the eaves completed and the scaffolding has been taken down. This has allowed the chippy back on-site to install some of the lower roof trusses, which are now ready to accept the ground floor colourbond roof. This is what the house presently looks like.

So aside from the minor delay, we're happy with how the build is progressing. We also noted that most of the roughing for services has been completed, the bath hob has been installed and some of the internal doors have also been installed.

A friend identified a few potential issues (see photos below) and we will raise these with our site supervisor tomorrow at a scheduled on-site meeting. During this meeting we will also go through the Schedule of Building Defects and our site supervisor will detail how CG has chosen to rectify the defect. We are hoping all defects have been satisfactorily attended to.

Roughly circled you can see a large spanning beam that supports roof trusses of the first floor roof. The only thing attaching this beam to the cross beam appears to be three nails punched in at an angle. We're unsure if this ok, since most other spanning beams are braced or end in places where there is upright structural support. In this case, there doesn't seem to be much support (if any) for this entire spanning beam and the structures it supports. We're not sure if this a concern or not. Any comments are welcome. We will also ask our site supervisor tomorrow.

Another thing that was noted is the welding of a small segment of steel post between the large steel post(s) that support a major steel beam that spans the entire length of our garage. Picked up by a friend who thinks that the length of the steel post(s) was cut incorrectly, so had to be supplemented by adding the small segment between the end of the post and the large  spanning beam. The frame around this post (which forms the rear garage wall) also appears to be unsupported or not braced.

We are not sure if this is intentional or not. It could be standard practice, but honestly, we can not think of a reason why the actual steel post does not go all the way to meet and support the beam.  It will good to find out during our meeting tomorrow in any case. We will let you know once we have some answers.